We've found over the years that the wine producers who never get back to you are the best. And so it was with Stephane Cherrier.....
Located in the tiny village of Verdigny just northwest of Sancerre, Stephane is one of the young guns of the region, although he's not exactly a young young one! To be fair, by the time your parent hands over the reins you might not be. As his father didn't bottle, selling the wine to other producers, Stephane is actually the one putting the name on the map, and he's had a good few years at the helm, having converted to organics as soon as taking over.
He farms a scattering of hillside parcels totalling 13ha; 10 planted to Sauvignon and the remaining 3 to Pinot Noir on rocky Kimmeridgian limestone. Winemaking is with a light touch and no additions other than minimal SO2, and Stéphane strongly prefers to age his wines in tank and large barrels over ageing in barriques.
Having heard exciting things about him, we made quite the diversion from a short trip to Burgundy to meet him. We arrived, and after a bit of wandering around we heard some clanging in a small warehouse. We entered, and there was Stephane labelling bottles. The afternoon turned into a Sancerre fest. After a long and rushed drive, we instantly relaxed in his warm and welcoming presence. Stephane kept opening bottles, getting more and more excited. We were about to say our goodbyes after 2 hours of tasting when he disappeared off and came back clutching a magnum of 2014. Naturally we had to stay and sample it. We were in!
Stylistically, the domaine is about elegance, restrained power and making a lovely drink that blends beautifully with food, rather than the more explosive, aromatic style that you find in some Sauvignons. His terroir produces wines of fantastic purity and length, and the amount of clay in the soils varies by parcel and elevation, providing Stéphane with really diverse expressions of the grape, which he certainly does justice to in his single site wines, Belle Oreille, Philippa and Madeleine.